The Essential Guide to Telluride Ski Resort

Skiing, See Forever Slope, Telluride, Colorado, USA
••• Norbert Eisele-Hein/Getty Images

Telluride is considered one of Colorado’s best ski resorts and one of the best in the country. And for good reason.

Telluride sees more than 300 inches of snow a year and 300 days of sunshine to match. Yes, even when it’s snowy. Unlike many other world-renowned ski resorts, Telluride doesn’t have long lift lines.

That's due to its location. Telluride is about 200 miles (a more than six-hour drive) southwest of Denver.

But you can fly from Denver to the Montrose Regional Airport and save time. That small airport is less than 65 miles from Telluride.

The mountain is high: starting at 12,570 and peaking at 13,150 feet above sea level.

Overview of Telluride

The town itself is an adorable mountain town with a European-influence style, set in a canyon of tall mountain peaks. The town itself is small, only eight-by-12 blocks. Much of Telluride is a National Historic Landmark District, for its mining history. You can see the history in the Victorian architecture of the homes and stores. It’s also known for its warmer-weather festivals (bluegrass, beer and film).     

The smaller town of Mountain Village is another part of this area and it accesses the ski resort and national forest. It connects to Telluride with a free, 13-minute gondola ride

Terrain

More than 2,000 skiable acres; 4,425-foot vertical drop; 23 percent beginner, 36 percent intermediate, 41 percent expert/advanced.

Telluride offers terrain for all levels.

  • Advanced: Head to Lift 9 and try Plunge, with steep runs and bumps—what Telluride is known for. The black diamond The Plunge provides great views of town. Also go to Lift 14 for Gold Hill.

  • Intermediate: For moderate bumps and glades great for intermediate skiers and boarders, Village, Prospect and Palmyra are favorites. But See Forever is the most popular trail, due to its sweeping views.

  • Beginner: Try Galloping Goose, Ute Park and Prospect Bowl. These are some fun green and blue runs to learn and improve on.

Lift Tickets

Adult tickets start at $87 per day and go up. Children under 5 ski Telluride for free. Kids 6 to 12 can ski starting at just $48. Seniors (65 and older) can ski starting at $70.

Food and Drink

Telluride has a charming downtown and many great places to eat and celebrate. Here are a few highlights.

  • Gorrono Ranch: We love on-mountain dining options, and Gorrono Ranch is located in Mountain Village, on the Misty Maiden Ski Run off chair four. This is casual dining served on picnic tables, cafeteria style. But the burgers and salads will refuel you quickly so you can keep skiing. Grab a spot on the desk by the fire pit and listen to live music while you dine — in full ski gear, if you want.  

  • New Sheridan Bar: For some of Colorado's best apres ski sessions and nightlife, check out the lively New Sheridan’s Historic Bar in Telluride. It’s one of the oldest bars in the west and a lot of the decor shows that. Enjoy drink specials, listen to live music, play pool and warm up. If the weather’s nice, this bar offers panoramic rooftop seating.

  • Allred's Restaurant: Dine more than 10,000 feet above sea level on the top of the gondola overlooking Telluride. Allred's serves up spectacular views, plus an award-winning wine list, hand-crafted cocktails and fine contemporary American dining. Menu items include lobster bisque soup, wagyu beef carpaccio and a Colorado rack of lamb served with carrot puree, confit-rosemary marble potatoes, almond emulsion and jus. It's located in Mountain Village. Allred's is considered Telluride's flagship restaurant. It's a must-visit when in town. 

  • Chop House Restaurant This is Telluride's classic steakhouse, with a great wine list (and a nitrogen wine bar). It's located inside the New Sheridan Hotel. 

  • CosmopolitanCome here for great American food, for sushi or for cocktails. The bar here serves various wines on tap, which allows a nice selection of wine by the glass (and always something new to try). Cosmopolitan serves 100 percent Japanese wagyu beef, which has a high fat content that just melts in your mouth. The restaurant carries wagyu beef from two different area ranches. A highlight is the 18-ounce 7X Wagyu (that's the ranch's name) New York strip, big enough to share. It's served with mashed potatoes, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts and a red wine jus. Check out Cosmopolitan over New Year's Eve for a fun party, too. 

  • Tacos Del Gnar: If you want tasty bites on a budget, Tacos Del Gnar is the place. This "progressive" taco shop has the best tacos around and at great prices. Margs are hand-squeezed. The atmosphere is laid back and quirky. Every taco on the menu is drool-worthy. One fun taco to try: the Drippy Mitch, aka the sloppy Joe of tacos. It's stuffed with house-made chorizo and potatoes, topped with queso, cabbage, roasted corn salsa and delicious chimichurri sauce. Make sure you have plenty of napkins and also chips to scoop up every last bite.  For vegetarians, there's a mushroom taco and also one made with tempura-fried avocado slices, topped with ginger soy, cabbage, kimchi and wasabi aioli.  There's also a Tacos Del Gnar branch in Ridgeway, which we only mention because once you try these tacos, you'll be hunting for them again.  

    Rentals and Gear

    There are multiple different places to rent your ski gear on the mountain and in town. Two of the largest outfitters are Bootdoctors and Paragon Outdoors (family-owned in both Telluride and Mountain Village) and Telluride Sports (the area’s biggest chain, affiliated with RentSkis.com; also has locations in both Telluride and Mountain Village).

    You can also save money and time by reserving your gear online at rentskis.com. Pick your stuff up slopeside or even order it to be delivered to your hotel room.

    Lessons and Clinics

    Telluride offers a variety of types of ski and snowboard lessons, including private lessons, children’s classes, adult group classes, specialty camps and an adaptive program. There’s a special first-time skiers guide, too.

    Within the category of adult group classes are a variety of styles of lessons. The Morning Max 4 is a morning class that starts at 9 a.m. for intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders. Per the name, these classes cap at four students so you get plenty of individual attention.

    For beginners, there's the Never Ever Beginner class, which runs every day. For advanced skiiers, there are the Mountain Adventure lessons. 

    Skiing and Snowboarding Alternatives

    Don't feel like skiing or snowboarding? Telluride has tons of other activities and events. Here are a few:

    • Take a ride on the free gondola between Telluride and Mountain Village and enjoy the views. Bring your camera and get some stunning shots to print when you return home. 
    • Visit the Telluride Adventure Center for a variety of exciting backcountry adventures in the San Juan Mountains. Options include snowshoeing, ice climbing, snowmobiling, Cat skiing, heli-skiing and even a bungee trampoline. Showshoeing is a particularly fun way to enjoy the Colorado snow without having to put on ski boots. 
    • Climb up a frozen waterfall in Bear Creek or Bridal Veil Falls, the tallest free-falling waterfall in the state. You'll have a guide there to help you, so don't be intimidated and check something new and wild off your travel bucket list. 
    • Ski above treeline with the Telluride Helitrax Eurocopter, a helicopter that will bring you to high terrain for extreme adventures. This is a new kind of experience on skis. 
    • Relax in the spa. The luxurious Madeline Hotel offers a spa with treatments designed to help you recover quickly after a day of skiing. The spa also offers yoga and Pilates classes (more than 20 per week) to help bring your body and mind into balance. Menu items include hot stone massage, warm oil treatments, facials, hand and foot therapy, manicures and pedicures and even hair treatments, blow-outs and cuts. If the altitude is getting to you, visit the Altitude Adjustment Oxygen Bar. Other fun treatments include a couples aromatherapy massage and in-room bath. It's the perfect way to relax, whether you are recovering from the mountain, the cold air or just from travel. 
    • Telluride has more than a half-dozen art galleries that you can browse, including the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, the oldest gallery in the area. This gallery features well-known and regional sculptors, painters, photographers and jewelry. Browse and look for a one-of-a-kind souvenir from Telluride. 
    • Telluride is also home for some of Colorado's greatest festivals. There always seems to be a cool festival in town, from music to comedy to food. Check Telluride's events calendar for the latest things to do. 

    Lodging 

    • Lumiere HotelStay here for luxury in a boutique-style resort with ski-in/ski-out access to the mountain. Lumiere Hotel has a variety of styles of rooms to pick from, including high-end, five-bedroom residences. The hotel also has a pool, hot tub and sauna to relax in after a day on the mountain. To simplify your skiing experience, the hotel offers a ski valet and equipment rentals on site. 
    • Madeline Hotel and Residences: Stay at Telluride's only Four Diamond, full-service hotel right in the heart of Mountain Village. This luxury resort offers ski-in/ski-out access, a full-service ski valet, a spa and more. Guests even can earn two free lift tickets to Telluride. This hotel was named among the Top 10 Hotels in the West by Conde Nast Traveler readers. 
    • The Peaks Resort and Spa: The ski-in/ski-out resort just 10 minutes via gondola from Telluride is perched at 9,500 feet above sea level surrounded by the mountains. In the summer, it also offers golf access. The Peaks has an on-site, full-service spa and salon, plus a fitness center, fitness classes, a pool (with an indoor waterslide), Roman tubs, hot tubs, saunas and more.